Wednesday, December 19, 2012


The past 5 days have been really hard.  Really, really, really hard.  I know every aspect of social media has been inundated with this tragedy, and I can't log onto Facebook without crying.  I look at my amazing, funny little girl, and see the potential shining from her, and the joy, and the plain old vibrancy of being a kid, and I think of the awful, awful amount of joy that was snuffed from the world in such a heartless, cruel, selfish manner.  It makes me ill.  I have been crying on and off since last Friday.  My heart breaks for those families, that community, and for the world we live in that such things could happen. 
Our little circle also lost someone on Friday.  A family we know lost their mom to cancer.  She and her husband have 6 kids.  It seems unreal that she is gone.  Moms just a few years older than me are not supposed to leave their children, just as children are not supposed to go off to school and not return.
I know that the innocent go directly to God's side, and that is a comfort.  But man, is it hard to wrap your mind around.
But, that's why things like this are so important.  I love that I have the time to do things with my daughter, and to share them with you.  I love that you all love her enough to read about her (many) antics on a regular basis.  And things like this remind me that it is important to build as much family time together as is humanly possible.  To sit back and watch her learn, and grow, and develop and take joy in the simple little things that make life very exciting in the eyes of a three year old.
This year, we made Vivi's first gingerbread house.  My great-grandmother, for whom Vivi is named, used to send a gingerbread house kit to us every year, and I LOVED making them (and eating them afterwards).  So  was pretty excited to start the tradition with her.  The box gave several "examples" of houses you can "easily make," and Vivi eagerly made her selection.
I would like to mention that while you cannot really see this picture, you would have to be the freaking PICASSO OF GINGERBREAD to make any one of these houses.  This did not dissuade her.
However, once we opened the box, she was mightily confused.  Where was the house?  What were these funny looking things?  Why weren't we eating all this candy?
It took some explaining (and several gumdrops) for her to get the picture.
While I struggled to get the bomb shelter spackle (I mean, frosting) to fuse the gingerbread together, she remained cheerful.
This could have something to do with the gumdrops.  You can tell by the tension in my neck that I had NOT had any gumdrops.
Russ, luckily, turned out to be a whiz with the pastry bag.

And he and Vivi gave great attention to the roof, making sure it was balanced with both color and different kinds of candy.
And that Vivi did not steal the remaining gumdrops.

While not the showpiece on the front of the box (those lunatics sent along instructions involving slicing the gumdrops into quarters and then rolling them out, then baking them slightly, for a "transparent look."  have they no idea that we are simply trying to ensure the gumdrops wind up on the house, and not in the stomach of our toddler?), it did turn out quite cute.

And this is it, folks.  This is what we fight for, this is what we have to protect. 
Although this is a smile slightly terrifying in its intensity, this is why we keep going.  This is why you hug your littles closer, teach them kindness and show them how to treat others.  And she is what will help me rebuild my saddened heart.

PS--I know you are all wondering.  Did we eat that monstrosity that has been sitting in a cardboard box for heaven knows how long?  Damn right we did.  And it was delicious.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012


I know, I know.  I should be blogging about all the wonderful Christmas-y things we are doing right now.  Or, I could blog about this.
Yes, that's right.  That is a Tyrannosaurus Rex.  Riding on a pony.
Here, Vivi assists him with his reins.
So he can "hold on really tight."
Having a three-year old is awesome.

Monday, December 10, 2012

The Story of Pants....

As we were decorating our house like the busiest of little bees, Russ and I suddenly heard a giggle.  It's the kind of giggle we only hear when Vivi is simultanously being slightly naughty and amusing herself.  So we turned to find her wearing...pants.  Of a sort.
While we were digging around in boxes of ornaments, Vivi decided to wear her coat as pants.
And boy, was she cracking herself up.
She seriously wore coat pants for a good long time.
Here, she is reading one of her books, laughing, and wearing coat pants.  Awesome.
She soon gave up the silly pretense of "reading," and just laughed at herself.
...and when the novelty of coat pants began to wear off, she decided to take it up a notch by accessorizing.
Nothing screams the holidays quite like coat pants and a garland scarf.  And no one can take a break from decorating quite like my baby.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

By the Chimney with Care...

Decorating for Christmas was really fun this year.  For the first time, Vivi was a very active participant.  She was thrilled to be involved with putting up the tree, choosing the perfect spots for the decorations, and, of course, hanging the stockings.
She choose which stocking hung from each hook.  Very carefully.
Hers, of course, took the lead hook.
Just to make sure Santa didn't miss hers, I'm guessing.
She was most proud.
Not so happy about having to share the limelight with others, however.
December at Chez Otto...always with the true Christmas spirit.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

In a Flash...

So, November happened.  Probably for all of you, too.  I worked 6 days a week all four months, which was...lame.  Vivi spent a lot of time with Russ, which she loved.  And it got colder.  Kind of.  Vivi did a lot of hanging out, all snuggled up...
...which Ollie loved.  I sucked it up again, forgetting my camera over Thanksgiving.  Which was too bad, because it was a blast, and everyone had a lot of fun.  One of these years, I'll remember to take my camera to the holidays...

At any rate.  November.  We're over it.  On to December!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Last October Post, I promise...

We did paint pumpkins.  I promise.  Inspired by her costume, Vivi asked me to draw a snail on her pumpkin so she could paint it.

She took the whole thing very seriously.

The whole "staying inside the lines" thing, not so much.

Of course, Russ and I carved our own pumpkins.
Vivi picked Russ's design of a "really spooky witch," while I did a Hello Kitty Vampire.

Ah, October.  One of my favorite months.  But, on we go!  To the holiday season!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Boo at the Zoo

Of course, we also continued our tradition of going to Boo at the Zoo.  We went with a motley crew of a Zombie, a Tow Truck, and one friendly snail.

Our little snail got thirsty dragging that shell around all night.  Unfortunately,  there was no water in the well.  Or fountain.  Whatever.
Very disappointing.

Had to take a little time out from the candy gathering (the amount was obscene, yall--we're still eating it) to have a seat by the spooky decorations...
All in all, a very spook-tacular evening!  I did a total mom fail and did not get a picture of us on the haunted train was awesome.  Next year, folks!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Costume Party

Russ may have missed the pumpkin patch this year, but he did get to come along for Vivi's first Halloween party!  Our buddy Parker (and his folks) threw an adult/kid costume party, and we were so excited to go!  The big question...what was Vivi for Halloween this year?
 A pink and purple snail.

She came up with the idea herself.
And, since there are not a lot of snail patterns floating around out there (can't imagine why not), I made it myself.

I was worried that the giant shell would be a hindrance, but it didn't seem to bother her at all as she zoomed around with Parker.
 Parker was the world's cutest, muscley-est Tow Mater, and the Palmer boys showed up as two darling, darling garden gnomes.

I have decided I quite like adult/child parties.  As the adults hung out and enjoyed food and delicious wine and cocktails, the kids entertained each other and wore themselves out by running all over the place.
 Vivi and Parker really, really like to chase each other.  Apparently.

We had one heck of a night.  The Aerni family knows how to throw a great party!  It's fun to watch Vivi and her friends grow up and start to build traditions.  And, it was nice for Russ and I to get in on the action, too.  What?  You didn't think we missed an opportunity to wear costumes, did you?
Every bride needs her Frankenstein. Happy Halloween, Otto-style!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Pumpkin Patch!

October was a little different for us this year.  With Russ's leg still a bit rough, we didn't get to do some of our favorite things as a family.  But, he and I talked about it, and we decided that I would still take Vivi to the pumpkin patch, even though he wasn't able to go.  So, we joined up with Aunt Kate and Noah, and off we went!  Home girl was pretty excited, let me tell you.  She is getting bigger, and is able to do many more things while we were there.  This year?  Ride-on-trikes.
 But, zooming around on a trike couldn't hold her attention for long when there was an entire pumpkin patch to explore, and we quickly moved on.

She and Noah scaled the giant haystack.
 She didn't need my help this year, which made me kind of sad.

She DID need my help to drive this bad boy, though (which was SUPER fun!)

We took the obligatory "cut out head"shot.  This year, she chose a flower.
 And was tall enough to fit her face in without being lifted up.  The times, they are a'changing.

She was also not afraid to go on the bounce pads by herself.

Though this did not stop her from conning both me...

...and Aunt Kate...
 ...into bouncing with her (this did not really take much conning, actually.  They are pretty fun, and I did not get to go on them last year).

And then we went on Vivi's first ever hayrack ride out into the fields to pick "the perfect pumpkin."  Or three.  Since we needed one for both parents, as well.

Not content to pick out three pumpkins on her own, she offered "sage advice" to Aunt Kate and Noah.
All in all, it was a pretty awesome day.  It was sad to go without Russ, but that just means Pumpkin Patch 2013 will be even more awesome.  And who knows what she'll have grown into by then.  Miss Thing is never boring.

Sunday, November 11, 2012


No, we didn't go to Rio.  Sadly.  But we did go to a carnival!  Noah's school held their annual carnival, and we decided to tag along, with Jill and Parker, too.  Aunt Kate and I went to the same school when we were younger, and had very fond memories of attending Fest Quest when we were younger.  I was thrilled to take Vivi for the first time.

To my great delight, they still had a lot of the same games as when I was a kid!  Here, Vivi goes "fishing" for candy, which was one of my most favorite games.
 She, however, was slightly underwhelmed.  When the candy came over the side as a prize, she looked over at the lady and said, "Excuse me.  I wanted to catch a fish.  Is it still my turn?"  It took come talking to convince her that candy was an acceptable alternative.

She was much more excited about the tattoo artist (NOT around in my day, btw).

She was SUPER impressed by the giant slide, and tried again and again to make it to the top.  Unfortunately, it was a little too tall for her, and she did not quite make it to the top.  She did pretty well with it though, taking it in stride, and telling me, "I'm pretty sure I'll be tall enough next time we have a carnival."

This might have had something to do with her calmness.  There was a giant tractor ride.  Here Noah, Parker, and Vivi all get ready to go for a drive.

Who doesn't take their favorite giant leaf with them when they go for a little ride in the coupe?
All in all, Fest Quest was a little different than I truly remembered.  A little less impressive, a little exhausting (as a parent, I have no idea how mine did it with 4 of us), but still a lot fun.  I'm excited to have it be a part of my life again.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Happy Birthday, Eddie!

So, back in the middle of October (see how time flies?), Eddie had a birthday and a birthday party.  We were SUPPOSED to go to the pumpkin patch, but Mother Nature is a huge jerk who does not feel like granting the birthday wishes of a 4 year old boy.  So.  We went to Eddie's house instead.  As soon as Vivi realized we were not going to an outdoor party, she insisted on wearing "her favorite fancy party dress."  What the heck, I thought.
 Standard party wear.  Um...kind of.

Eddie's party theme was "Call of the Wildman."  Awesome, huh?  Wait.  What?  You've never seen that show?  It's amazing.  This guy catches all these animals "with his bare hands."  It's hilarious.  He has less teeth than many 6 month olds, and a truly unique way of seeing the world.  Perfect party theme.  And the cake?
 That's right, folks.  It's a possum.  I was so happy.

And, so were the kids.  They zoomed around the house playing, watched Eddie open his gifts, and got to eat the AWESOME cake.  Then, as the party was winding down, someone glanced out the window.  The Palmers have a huge...tree (no idea what kind, sorry) in their front yard and it suddenly started raining these beautiful bright yellow leaves.  It was awesome.  It was almost as if Mother Nature was apologizing for being a jerk.  Every single one of us rushed outside and watched the kids run and play in the leaves.

Elliot even got in on the action.  Is this not what fall is about?  Babies buried in piles of leaves?
 (With some help from their friends, of course).

It was such an awesome party.  A wonderful theme, a wonderful day, and a fabulous surprise ending.  With a turtle strapped to her head, our little lady squealed and zoomed around with all of her buddies.
 Eddie wanted to hand out masks of the different types of animals the Wildman catches.  So Aunt Kate and my contribution to the party was these hilarious masks.  We tried to get a picture of all of the kids wearing their masks.  We really did.  That...didn't go so well.  Worth it, I say, to have such a great day.  Vivi loves hanging out with Eddie!